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Genetically modified E. coli pump out morphine precursor

A common gut microbe could soon be offering us pain relief. Japanese bioengineers have tweaked Escherichia coli genes so that they pump out thebaine, a morphine precursor that can be modified to make painkillers. The genetically modified E. coli produces 300 times more thebaine with minimal risk of unregulated use compared to a recently developed method involving yeast.

Genetically Modified E. coli Pump Out Morphine Precursor
Japanese bioengineers have tweaked Escherichia coli genes so that they pump out thebaine, a morphine precursor that can be modified to make painkillers. The genetically modified E. coli produces 300 times more thebaine with minimal risk of unregulated use compared to a recently developed method involving yeast.
Credit: Eiri Ono/Kyoto University